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Daily Editorials – Crop burning and Biomass

editorials


Paddy Stubble


Context

Paddy stubble burning in neighboring Haryana and Punjab is a major reason for affecting air quality in Delhi during the onset of winter.

  • Machines like combine harvest are used which harvests and thresh the crop leaving behind 14-15 inch long stalk.
  • Efforts to prevent stubble burning has increased over the past few years because of rising pollution levels in Delhi and its neighboring
  • India produces 140 million tons of paddy and 280 million tons of rice straw in a year.

Use of paddy stubble


  • It can be put to other uses such as packaging of vegetables and fruits and is in demand at mandis.
  • Used for cardboard making and in packing industries and paper mills
  • After adding urea and molasses in paddy straw, it can be used as animal feed.

Why farmers burn crop waste-

  • To prepare the field for thesowing of wheat in November as there is little time left between the harvesting of paddy and sowing of wheat.
  • Burning the stubble is the most convenient, cheap and pragmatic solution to get rid of it.
  • Rice straw is not used as fodder as it is found to be non-palatable to animals due to its high silica content. Because of its little economic value as animal feed and other general uses, farmers are prompted to burn it on the field instead of incurring a high cost of collecting it.
  • Equipment like Rotavator which helps cut the stubble and mixes it with the soil and happy seeder which sows wheat among the standing stubble , are expensive. Subsidy if provided by the state government is not paid on time which discourages the farmers.
  • Less number of biomass power plants in Punjab , even if the 6 under construction power plants are completed they will use up only around 1 million ton of agricultural waste, which is just 5% of the 20 million ton Punjab produces

[2] Steps by government


Step by Government

  • Haryana Government recently decided to launch a pilot project for a paddy straw-based biomass power project .
  • In November 2014 a National Policy for Management of Crop Residue was framed,barring the open burning of crop residue and biomass.
  • Institutes like PAU (Punjab agricultural university) have developed machines like happy seeder , and are involved making them more useful by attaching more equipment. But they face issues like lack of awareness about the machines , non-disbursal of subsidies etc

What should be done to curb this practice-

  • Need to commercialize paddy straw , as wheat straw is useful farmers have found ways to use it unlike paddy.
  • Effective implementation of the law curbing crop burning.
  • Need to develop rice varieties that are both rich in grain yield and high in straw quality
  • State governments should create massive awareness in crop stubble management.
  • Available paddy straw can be effectively used for power generation
  • Biomass power plants in Punjab and Haryana need to be increased . Punjab has a biomass power and cogeneration installed capacity of 155.5 MW, of which around 62.5 MW are in operation. In Haryana, the capacity is 45.3 MW.
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  • Haryana Government recently decided to launch a pilot project for a paddy straw-based biomass power project .
  • In November 2014 a National Policy for Management of Crop Residue was framed,barring the open burning of crop residue and biomass.
  • Institutes like PAU (Punjab agricultural university) have developed machines like happy seeder , and are involved making them more useful by attaching more equipment. But they face issues like lack of awareness about the machines , non-disbursal of subsidies etc

What should be done to curb this practice-

  • Need to commercialize paddy straw , as wheat straw is useful farmers have found ways to use it unlike paddy.
  • Effective implementation of the law curbing crop burning.
  • Need to develop rice varieties that are both rich in grain yield and high in straw quality
  • State governments should create massive awareness in crop stubble management.
  • Available paddy straw can be effectively used for power generation
  • Biomass power plants in Punjab and Haryana need to be increased . Punjab has a biomass power and cogeneration installed capacity of 155.5 MW, of which around 62.5 MW are in operation. In Haryana, the capacity is 45.3 MW.

[3] About Biomass


What is biomass-

  • Biomass is organic matter derived from living, or recently living organisms. It can be used as a source of energy and it most often refers to plants or plant-based materials that are not used for food or feed.
  • Biomass can either be used directly via combustion to produce heat or indirectly after converting it to various forms of biofuel
  • About 32% of the total primary energy use in India is derived from biomass and more than 70% of the country’s population depends onit for their energy needs

Biomass power plant –

  • A biomass-fired power plant produces electricity and heat by burning biomass in a boiler. The most common types of boilers are hot water boilers and steam boilers.
  • Wood chips, residues and other types of biomass are used in the boilers, in the same way as coal, natural gas, and oil.
  • Biomass power plants in India are based mostly on agricultural wastes

[4] Uses


  • It helps in disposing of the farm waste, municipal waste
  • It is a carbon neutral method of disposing of waste.
  • Generation of electricity.
  • It is renewable
  • Energy from biomass is reliable as it is free of fluctuation unlike wind power and does not need storage to be used in times of non-availability as is the case with solar.
  • Helps to provide significant employment in the rural areas

[5] Issues


  • Unlike sun and wind energy, this segment has been languishing in India. At the end of 2015-16, the country’s total biomass power installed capacity (along with co-generation units) was 4831.33 MW, with another 1150 MW under construction.
  • Many times biomass power plants are not run economically and sold because:-
  • Biomass from agriculture is available only for a short period after its harvesting, which can stretch only for 2-3 months in a year.
  • Lack of mechanization in Indian Agriculture Sector
  • Fragmented land holdings
  • Most of the farmers are small or marginal
  • Need to have robust institutional and market mechanism for efficient procurement
  • Working plants are not running at full capacity.
  • The capacity addition has slowed in the past three years, from 465.6 MW in 2012-13 to 412.5 MW in 2013-14, 405 MW in 2014-15 and 400 MW in 2015-16.
  • Barring Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, no state added any biomass power or cogeneration capacity in the last fiscal year. Punjab has not added any biomass plant in last 3 years.

[6] How to promote biomass plants in India-


How to Promote Biomass Plants in India-

  • Making biomass power plants profitable , by ensuring aconstant supply of cheap biomass mainly agricultural waste , many times price of waste increases in the area near the plant , supply of waste is also fluctuating in nature.
  • Increasing awareness among the farmers , towards use of this renewable source of energy
  • Promoting and concentrating focus on increasing the number of power plants in states where crop burning is practiced in large number making the air quality issevere.
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  • Making biomass power plants profitable , by ensuring aconstant supply of cheap biomass mainly agricultural waste , many times price of waste increases in the area near the plant , supply of waste is also fluctuating in nature.
  • Increasing awareness among the farmers , towards use of this renewable source of energy
  • Promoting and concentrating focus on increasing the number of power plants in states where crop burning is practiced in large number making the air quality issevere.
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  • Arvind

    Biomass from agriculture is available only for a short period after its harvesting, which can stretch only for 2-3 months in a year.
    From the above it’s clear that we need to store the energy from biomass for later use when biomass is not available.

  • Arvind

    Energy from biomass is reliable as it is free of fluctuation unlike wind power and does not need storage to be used in times of non-availability as is the case with solar.

    How the energy from biomass is free from fluctuation??? And how it won’t need storage as it’s only possible when we have continuous supply of energy?

    And what are the various ways of deriving energy from biomass other that burning it and composting?

  • Arvind

    What is the meaning of “biomass grows”????. Is it m mean about growing the plants again as this in the only way of photosynthesis.
    Can anyone please explain this?

  • ILP- KUNA3885 (thevagabond85)

    Please cover :
    WTO Nairobi
    Defense reforms – DPP, need of CDS